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Become A Feature Writer

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Working As A Feature Writer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $55,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Feature Writer Do

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.

Duties

Technical writers typically do the following:

  • Determine the needs of users of technical documentation
  • Study product samples and talk with product designers and developers
  • Work with technical staff to make products easier to use and thus require fewer instructions
  • Organize and write supporting content for products
  • Use photographs, drawings, diagrams, animation, and charts that increase users’ understanding
  • Select appropriate medium for message or audience, such as manuals or online videos
  • Standardize content across platforms and media
  • Gather user feedback to update and improve content
  • Revise content as new issues arise

Technical writers create paper-based and digital operating instructions, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, and “frequently asked questions” pages to help technical support staff, consumers, and other users within a company or an industry. After a product is released, technical writers also may work with product liability specialists and customer-service managers to improve the end-user experience through product design changes.

Technical writers often work with computer hardware engineers, scientists, computer support specialists, and software developers to manage the flow of information among project workgroups during development and testing. Therefore, technical writers must be able to understand complex information and communicate the information to people with diverse professional backgrounds.

Applying their knowledge of the user of the product, technical writers may serve as part of a team conducting usability studies to help improve the design of a product that is in the prototype stage. Technical writers may conduct research on their topics through personal observation, library and Internet research, and discussions with technical specialists.

Technical writers are also responsible for managing the consistency of technical content and its use across business departments including product development, manufacturing, marketing, and customer relations.

Some technical writers help write grant proposals for research scientists and institutions.

Increasingly, technical information is being delivered online and through social media. Technical writers are using the interactive technologies of the Web and social media to blend text, graphics, multidimensional images, sound, and video.

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How To Become A Feature Writer

A college degree is usually required for a position as a technical writer. In addition, experience with a technical subject, such as computer science, Web design, or engineering, is important.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or communications. Many technical writing jobs require both a degree and knowledge in a specialized field, such as engineering, computer science, or medicine. Web design experience also is helpful because of the growing use of online technical documentation.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some technical writers begin their careers as specialists or research assistants in a technical field. They eventually develop technical communication skills and assume primary responsibilities for technical writing. In small firms, beginning technical writers may work on projects right away; in larger companies with more standard procedures, beginners may observe experienced technical writers and interact with specialists before being assigned projects.

Training

Many technical writers need short-term on-the-job training to adapt to a different style of writing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations, including the Society for Technical Communication, offer certification for technical writers. In addition, the American Medical Writers Association offers extensive continuing education programs and certificates in medical writing. These certificates are available to professionals in the medical and allied scientific communication fields.

Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase a technical writer’s opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Prospects for advancement generally include working on more complex projects and leading or training junior staff. Some technical writers become self-employed and produce work on a freelance basis.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technical writers must be able to take complex, technical information and translate it for colleagues and consumers who have nontechnical backgrounds.

Detail oriented. Technical writers create detailed instructions for others to follow. As a result, they must be detailed and precise at every step so that the instructions can be useful.

Imagination. Technical writers must be able to think about a procedure or product in the way a person without technical experience would think about it.

Teamwork. Technical writers must be able to work well with others. They are almost always part of a team: with other writers; with designers, editors, and illustrators; and with the technical people whose information they are explaining.

Technical skills. Technical writers must be able to understand highly complex information. Many technical writers need a background in engineering or computer science in order to do this.

Writing skills. Technical communicators must have excellent writing skills to be able to explain technical information clearly.

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Feature Writer Career Paths

Feature Writer
Writer And Editor Consultant Marketing Manager
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Consultant Product Manager
Senior Manager Of Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Consultant Principal
Marketing Vice President
10 Yearsyrs
Editor Owner Marketing Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Editor Project Manager Marketing Director
Chief Marketing Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Editor Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
6 Yearsyrs
Reporter Public Relations Specialist Public Relations Manager
Manager Of Corporate Communications
7 Yearsyrs
Reporter Team Leader Property Manager
Assistant Director, Communications
5 Yearsyrs
Reporter Technical Writer Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Communications Manager Communications Director
Community Development Director
9 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Communications Specialist Staff Writer
Public Information Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Public Relations Specialist Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Managing Editor
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Social Media Manager
Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Contributing Writer Managing Editor Content Manager
Senior Content Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Marketing Coordinator Digital Marketing Specialist
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Content Manager
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Copy Editor Communications Specialist Public Relations Specialist
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Assistant Editor Technical Writer Content Manager
Digital Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Editor Production Manager Print Production Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Feature Writer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Writer And Editor 3.1 years
Feature Writer 3.0 years
Editor/Copy Writer 2.9 years
Lead Writer 2.8 years
Features Editor 2.6 years
Columnist 2.6 years
Writer/Reporter 2.4 years
Ghost Writer 2.2 years
Research Writer 2.2 years
Newspaper Writer 2.1 years
Staff Writer 2.0 years
Writer 2.0 years
News Writer 1.9 years
Writer/Blogger 1.7 years
Blog Writer 1.2 years
Top Careers Before Feature Writer
Internship 12.9%
Reporter 11.0%
Editor 8.2%
Writer 8.1%
Columnist 6.3%
Volunteer 2.8%
Teacher 2.2%
Top Careers After Feature Writer
Editor 11.9%
Reporter 9.1%
Internship 8.3%
Writer 7.1%
Columnist 4.3%
Teacher 3.2%
Owner 2.8%
Volunteer 2.5%

Do you work as a Feature Writer?

Feature Writer Demographics

Gender

Female

53.1%

Male

37.4%

Unknown

9.5%
Ethnicity

White

63.4%

Hispanic or Latino

13.5%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

4.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

43.2%

French

18.9%

Japanese

5.3%

Italian

4.7%

Russian

3.6%

German

3.6%

Arabic

3.6%

Hindi

3.0%

Portuguese

2.4%

Urdu

1.8%

Swedish

1.2%

Vietnamese

1.2%

Korean

1.2%

Bengali

1.2%

Nepali

1.2%

Irish

1.2%

Chinese

1.2%

Mandarin

0.6%

Ukrainian

0.6%

Tamil

0.6%
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Feature Writer Education

Schools

New York University

8.9%

Pennsylvania State University

6.5%

Northwestern University

6.2%

University of Florida

6.2%

University of Texas at Austin

5.8%

University of Oregon

5.8%

Temple University

5.5%

University of Georgia

5.5%

American University

5.1%

Michigan State University

4.8%

Columbia University

4.8%

Boston University

4.8%

University of Alabama

4.5%

Syracuse University

3.8%

Wayne State University

3.8%

University of Colorado at Boulder

3.8%

University of Washington

3.8%

University of Oklahoma

3.8%

Arizona State University

3.4%

Harvard University

3.4%
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Majors

Journalism

25.7%

Communication

16.6%

English

15.5%

Writing

8.9%

Business

4.0%

Public Relations

3.1%

Political Science

2.6%

Agricultural Public Services

2.3%

Psychology

2.3%

History

2.3%

Journalism And Mass Communications

2.3%

Fine Arts

2.0%

Photography

1.9%

Marketing

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

Education

1.6%

Elementary Education

1.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.5%

Theatre

1.2%

Law

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

59.0%

Masters

21.8%

Other

11.8%

Certificate

2.8%

Doctorate

2.0%

Associate

1.8%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.1%
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Highest Feature Writer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Features Writer The Daily Holdings, Inc. F/K/A News DP Holdings, I New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $50,000
Feature Writer Endgame360 Inc. Asheville, NC Jun 01, 2013 $30,000
Business Features Writer The Korea Times Los Angeles, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 01, 2013 $27,144
Education Features Writer The Korea Times Los Angeles, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 01, 2013 $27,144

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Top Skills for A Feature Writer

  1. Student Newspaper
  2. News Stories
  3. Web Application
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Reported on football and track and field for The Lumberjack, NAU's student newspaper.
  • Led the writing and reporting of local and area news stories, events and articles relevant to Syracuse citizens.
  • Researched and wrote feature articles and a regular column on various transportation-related topics.
  • Interviewed local musicians, bands and wrote informative and creative articles for online publication and promotion
  • Edited feature articles for luxury lifestyle magazine, composed personality profiles and restaurant reviews

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Top Feature Writer Employers

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